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Decline of HRT Use Linked to Drop in Breast Cancer Cases

Posted: April 19, 2007

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The breast cancer rates leveled off by 2004, to rates not seen since 1987, the study authors said.

"Overall, this is very encouraging news," said Dr. Julia Smith, director of the New York University Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Screening and Prevention Program in New York City.

However, Smith said she'd like to know if this drop will affect survival rates in the future. "Have these cancers been eliminated, or are they just below our level of detection now, but will rise up again?" she asked.

Both Berry and Smith pointed out that if a woman is suffering through menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, short-term use of hormone replacement therapy is likely safe.

"You can give low-dose HRT for short periods of time for women who really have a quality-of-life issue," Smith said. She added that individual risk needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but even some women at high risk of breast cancer may be able to use HRT for short-term relief.